Tag Archives: self expression

Why Embracing Our Inner Child Transforms Our Lives & How to Start NOW

A few days ago I traveled back east to spend Christmas at home. This has actually been a pretty big deal for me because this is the first Christmas that I get to spend back home in three years. The last two years I spent abroad in East Asia where there was virtually no Christmas decorations or “Christmas spirit” to be found.

Not only did it lack in the whole “Christmas spirit” department, but it hardly ever snowed there and, if it did, it was the kind of snow that only lasted for a few hours or a day and melted. It certainly wasn’t anything that anyone could sled on, make a snowman with, or really enjoy in any real way.

So the other night it began to snow and it carried on through the morning. It wasn’t too much or two little – just right. And even if it was less or more I still would’ve felt excited and filled with gratitude for being able to experience snow: the crunch of snow under my boots, the white snow covering the bare tree branches, and the sight and feel of snowflakes falling.

Despite my own elation and appreciation, I quickly began to hear all the natives who haven’t lived in other locations that don’t get snow start the classic complaints of: “Why do people have to drive like idiots in the snow?!” or “Darn now I have to shuffle the driveway!”

I guess that’s just a mere representation of the irony that is our common way of living: We wish we had the things we don’t have rather than to simply accept and appreciate the things we do have. It seems that it is not until we actually experience not having something that we really allow ourselves to genuinely appreciate and enjoy it.

But this was not always case. We weren’t always this bitter. When we were kids seeing snow falling outside the window would make us so incredibly excited. We would run to the coat rack and and try to bundle up as quickly as possible just so we could try to catch snowflakes on our tongue before the snow stopped falling.

As adults, do we ever do that? No, because we are putting so much more energy into disliking what is happening rather than simply enjoying it. We reject what is happening rather than to accept it and move with the flow of what is happening. And to top that off – we may also have an internal inner critic telling us not to do really enjoy it and “play” because we are “adults” and that’s a “childish” thing to do. We tell ourselves that only kids can excited over such little things and enjoy it.

As a result, we don’t really allow ourselves to be joyful and excited or sad. We ignore and repress either emotion, so what we do express is negativity and complaints.

That’s one of the big differences between children and adults. As children, we acted out of impulse. We were present. We accepted the moment and lived out of the present moment. As a result, we were easily excited and joyful and if something upset us we cried right then and there and then let it go.

We didn’t hold on to and repress all these emotions. We expressed them in the moment. As a result, we were more in touch with our true sense of self – all because we were young and we weren’t filled with a ton of unexpressed emotional baggage.

As adults however, we are often rejecting what is happening rather than accepting it. Then we’re wishing that things were like they were in the “good ol’ days” or hoping that things will get better in the future.

Clearly, focusing primarily on the past or future is an illusion that only keeps us trapped in this miserable cycle of unhappiness. It causes us to feel disconnected from our true selves. And so, we are unhappy and we don’t know how to fulfill ourselves. As a result, we fall into habits to gain false short-term satisfactions by becoming consumed with material items, alcohol, drugs, TV shows, our relationships, and so on. In other cases, we may feel the need to have kids because, deep down, we know that our children possess the tremendous amount of excitement, joy, and love that we ourselves are lacking.

So how can we start to truly embrace our inner child and feel more reconnected to our true selves as adults?

Focus on the present moment.

Though it may not make sense right away, everything happens out of the present moment. Nothing ever happens in the past or future – it is always in the present. The present moment is the only thing that is actually real.

Something that happened 10 years ago is over. It’s done. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t impact the present moment – at least not if you cause it to impact the present. It’s when we allow the past or future to impact the present that it negatively effects us because it takes us away from what is happening right in front of us.

Change can happen only in the present moment. As children, we did this naturally because we had no past or future to think about, so in order to reconnect, we must focus on being present.

Cry.

Seriously – when someone or something upsets you, cry. All of our negative emotions – fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, etc. all stem back to a sense of suffering and sadness. Now, I’m not saying just go off and force yourself to cry over every bad thing that happens to do (that can take you out of the present). Rather, when the emotion comes up to just let it out and cry then cry. As children we naturally did this, but as adults we often don’t let ourselves do this because we tell ourselves it may not be “socially appropriate” (a common thing that we were “shamed” for as children). But the truth is that by expressing it in that moment you’ll feel better.

If you’re concerned about others seeing you, there are ways to cry in public places without really drawing much attention to yourself (sunglasses, bathroom break, etc.). And even if someone does see you, so what?

Also, it’s worth noting that you won’t always cry over bad things. We cry over good and joyful things as well. If that comes up, then allow it to happen. I’ve found that allowing ourselves to simply cry really allows us to process what we need to in order to heal and release what we need to release.

Play!

Be spontaneous. Be creative. Have fun! Take a go dancing or take a Zumba class. Start a new craft. Take a trip. Build a snowman. Go sledding. Paint, color, or draw. Play softball. Sing or play a musical instrument.

Put forth the effort to “play” every day. And if you catch yourself making the excuse of “I don’t have time”, then shut off the TV. Make it a pact that rather than watch any TV, you will “play” instead. When we allow ourselves to “play” we can begin to become more aligned with our inner child’s natural way of being.

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Start Embracing Your Inner Child NOW!

In what ways have you been keeping yourself away from the present moment? In what activities or situations can you start to be more presently engaged?

What kinds of emotions have you been repressing? What kinds of things should you just let yourself “cry” about?

How can you start implementing more “play” into your life? What kinds of activities can you start doing that you’ve always wanted to do but you have never done?

Share in the comments below! I’d love to help you on your journey!

This Weekend I Took a New Risk in Self-Expression

Halloween is a holiday that is loved by many because it gives us the opportunity to express ourselves in a way that would be considered socially inappropriate any other day of the year. We can dress up as someone who is completely out of our own character.

This weekend, as I do every year, I found myself contemplating a Halloween costume. I decided to keep in simple (as I usually do) by putting a costume together with some clothes and accessories that I already had laying around.

Somewhere in the midst of visualizing what this costume would look like, a certain fashion trend came to mind. It was one that I always thought was cool, but I never actually had the guts to do.

The fashion trend? “Leather” leggings (they’re not really leather, but look like it). After seeing Marie Forleo wearing a pair on a photo on her website, the desire to go that route has been on my mind but I’ve been holding back.

You see, a little over 10 years ago a similar fashion trend was in style. I had some classmates that wore flared pants with a leathery-coating over top. Others wore flared pants with a leopard print. Even then I was attracted to the style. I don’t know why, but something about them drew my attention.

However, at that time when I was in my mid-teens wearing a pair of pants like that was completely unheard of in my household. There were several things that should never be worn and that was one of them. I knew that if even if I did buy a pair and somehow sneak out of the house wearing them I’d be in for a TON of criticism.

And even though that was about 10 years ago, that fear is still there. Even though my outer critics are gone, those critics are still internalized.

This is what I had to confront this weekend. My inner critic kept saying things like “This is not appropriate!” and “If you wear that then you’re just desperate for attention”.

Eventually, my desire to have them far exceeded my inner critic and I found myself at the mall trying on and then buying my first pair of “leather” pants. I overcame my inner critic once again and have taken another step closer to my own unique self-expression.

It’s a challenging thing for us to do and, though it may not appear to be on the outside, it is a great risk. It is especially difficult for us people pleasers because we so desperately want to keep others happy and not cause any stir. We fear taking the risk if it seems we may be unaccepted.

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Click to Tweet: In order truly self express we must be willing let go of any of our limiting beliefs and inner critical thoughts @jenilyn8705

This can manifest in a number of ways. For some of us it involves moving to a new location or taking a new career path. For others its stepping outside of your comfort zone to experience a completely different culture or to wear something that you’ve never worn before in your life. It challenges us to release what we believe to be our identity so that we can move closer to who we truly are.

So what can we do to help us let go of the inner critic and be more self-expressive?

Identify your inner critic in the act.

Is there something that you’ve been REALLY wanting to do but you’re inner critic keeps telling you not to? What is it telling you? Then reflect on whether those things that the inner critic is saying is correlated to a voice you used to hear growing up. Was it a family member or teacher? How about a friend or classmate? Is it rooted in a cultural belief?

Realize the critic’s irrationality.

Though there are ethical debates with some things, most of the time the reality is that something is only inappropriate if you are acting out of fear or lack. So if you catch your inner critic saying “Don’t do that cause that’s totally inappropriate” stop and ask yourself “Am I wanting to do this out of a lack of self-worth or because I really truly just want to express more of my authentic self?”

If your really not sure of this, I personally always think of Lady Gaga. She is like the modern day epitome for self-expression. The woman has no fear. I mean, come on, meat dress? Could you be anymore self-expressive? That being said, there are also celebrities who have clearly acted more out of a desperate need to get attention as well.

Take a step (or a mini-step) towards more self-expression.

So you want to try a totally outrageous new hairstyle? Go for it – or maybe just do a mild version of the new style. Want a tattoo? Go for it – or try out one of those washable henna tattoos first. Go at the pace you feel most comfortable so you can be confident, but take a step forward.

Take a step in your own self-expression today!

What is something that you’ve always wanted but you’ve been letting your inner critic tell you not to? What does your inner critic say?

Share your experiences below!

What Every People Pleaser Needs to Realize About Themselves

A few weeks ago I was going through a bit of a rough patch. I was sad and upset over some recent events that had taken place in my personal life. To make matters worse, I also had finals due that same week so I easily felt overwhelmed and stressed by everything thrown at me at once.

One course that I’m taking for my grad program is a group process course, where we basically practice and learn about the group therapy dynamic. Each class begins with an hour of the therapy session or “processing” and then the second half is focused on theory and discussion about those theories.

Since I was going through this rough patch, I brought it up to the group to process what I was going through. I shared the story and explained my frustrations.

Hours and days after class when I was reflecting upon that sharing I finally asked myself: Who was I sharing this for? Me or them? Naturally, when it comes to any sort of therapy one would assume that the person who is sharing their story or their own healing. They want to experience some sort to relief. This is why many people cry when they are sharing a painful event. It helps them to release all those painful emotions so they can let go and move forward.

Well, the thing is… I actually didn’t cry. In fact, when I BEGAN to cry I stopped cause my throat started closing up, got re-centered, and began talking again. My inner critic came up and said “No, you can’t cry here because if you cry then you can’t talk!  You NEED to be able to talk so that you can explain your story to everyone.”

I habitually did the exact thing that so many of us people pleasers do:

In our own moments of suffering, we focus on the well-being of other people rather than ourselves.

How crazy is that?! I AM the one that was going through all these sad emotions and what do I do? I shift my focus to other people’s feelings and act accordingly to what I sense from them.

It’s such a people pleaser thing to do!

So what can we do about it, you ask? Well, there are a few things…

Be aware.

Awareness is the single most important step and the more you challenge yourself to be aware of it the better. Like, we can MENTALLY know and understand our own dynamic but when we challenge ourselves to pay close attention to that dynamic unfolding in the moment it can light-up our eyes in a way nothing else can.

Next time you are associating with a group of people focus on things like: Am I focusing more on this other person or me? What am I feeling right now? Hint: If you don’t know what you are feeling in that moment, then you’re more than likely focused on the people around you.

Focus on “here”.

There was an activity that I did a few weeks ago at a relationship workshop where we were asked to sit with a person and focus on “here” (you yourself are right now), “near” (the other person), and far (the other people, things, and places around you). More than likely, one is going to be MUCH more difficult than the others.  If you’re a people pleaser, chances are the “here” might be the most difficult.

So next time you are associating with someone, in a group, or simply just around people on the street try to focus on where you are. Also try to notice in that situations are more difficult than others.

Do you easily focus on other people when at the grocery store or is it only more difficult when you are talking to someone? Make a mental note of which is easier and which is harder for you.

Focus on your body.

Even if you can’t quite get the first two, don’t fret because this one is the easiest way to help shift your focus back on YOU and YOUR needs! The trick? Focus on your body.

For many of us, this can be very difficult in the beginning because our society has us so focus on our heads. We sit in front of a computer or spreadsheet all day and most of us rarely ever focus on “How does my body feel?”

Well, the great thing about focusing on the body is that not only does it tell us how the body feels health-wise but it also helps us to be more aware of our emotions. We can focus more on OURSELVES rather than other people.

So rather than doing a meditation to help calm yourself down or get re-centered when you’re around people or after you’ve been around many people, a much more grounded approach can be to simply focus on how you feel in the body. Is there tension? Do you feel jittery? Do you feel open? What emotions do you feel are correlated to these body sensations?

If you are never quite sure what you are feeling emotionally, the body can be a gateway to discover exactly what emotions are lingering around.

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Begin to focus more on YOU today!

Stop for a moment and focus on your body. How do you feel? Is there any tension or pain? What emotions are associated with that?

Then focus on how you feel when other people are around. When you’re in a group, take the time to stop and focus on yourself. What am I feeling in this moment? What do I need?

Share your own experiences and what you are planning to work on below!

Rediscovering My Love for Writing

Back when I was a teenager I loved to write. Contrary to what many of my teachers expected, I wasn’t as big of a fan of reading as I was on writing. I guess I always felt a cap in reading… I mean, there’s only so much I could gain from reading other people’s stuff while the act of writing left endless possibilities to my own creativity.

As a kid I used to make up stories in a notebook. As I got older, it turned into articles and essays. Truly, it didn’t matter what it was. What I loved was simply the art of word play… of finding a way to structure the words in a way that “felt right”. I didn’t care too much about following any of the “rules”. In fact, I hardly paid much attention as to what they were unless it was something very obvious or important.

And then I started college… I took English Composition as every student needs to and then later moved on to take some journalism courses with the intention of receiving a minor in journalism. This then followed into a course in business writing and then later – even today – the obligations to write a TON of papers where I was told to either analyze, reflect, or do both.

Somehow, somewhere along the line. I completely lost my love for writing. It wasn’t fun anymore, it was just an obligation. I was now unconsciously taught to associate writing with mindless regurgitation of information just to keep someone higher up in academia happy.

I had attempted to get myself back into the love of writing groove fairly soon after I received my undergraduate degree, but it was so much more difficult to write from the same place that I did before. Something was lost (if you want to hear more details, check out my About Me page) and I wasn’t sure how to get it back.

And so, I generally stopped trying because my attempts felt more frustrating than empowering. I’d experience more stress than joy. I just couldn’t find the fun in it anymore.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I launched this business that I was able to write and experience the fun with it. I remember now why I loved writing so much – it’s because through writing we have the opportunity to teach OURSELVES things that we didn’t even know that we knew. It helps us to feel more grounded and complete within ourselves – and that’s definitely not something we can ever get from reading.

BeautyOfWriting

And so, that is what I encourage you to start doing today. It may be writing or it may not be, but find some outlet of self expression. Play music, sing, dance, paint, do crafts, sew, create your own fashion trend, create your own recipes, or create some unique décor for your apartment or house.

Do SOMETHING that is 100% originally YOU.

Allow your own uniqueness to shine through.

The bonus part? By allowing yourself to express your own uniqueness you will, in turn, feel much less inclined to rely on other people for you happiness. Why? Because through self-expression you will be doing things for YOURSELF so you’ll feel MUCH more self-confident and empowered. The perfect equation to help you create more fulfilling relationships in your life!

 

Express yourself today!

Think of something that you used to love to do as a kid or something that you’ve always wanted to do but have never done before. I’d recommend starting with something simple that would be easy to start without any extra training if you’ve never done it before, like writing or making your own jewelry. If you need to buy stuff for it, then go out and get it and just DIVE IN! Don’t worry whether it is “perfect” or not. If you catch the inner critic talking, then tell yourself something like “I’m doing the best I can right now” or “I’m doing this for fun, it doesn’t have to be perfect”. If you ever find yourself struggling to focus, then put your phone on silent, close your e-mail, shut off anything that could distract you, and set yourself a timer for a half hour or an hour with the intention to work on ONLY this activity. Making that intention with the timer can be great to help us get and stay focused.

 

What do you plan to create? Share your ideas below! 🙂